Return to Public Service


By: Robert Sheffield




The Emergency Plan can never be tested until there an emergency occurs. The incident range can extend from a minor or simple impairment to a major catastrophe where fatality numbers are huge. The best remedy to test the plan is to orchestrate all those entities that will be involved and have a detailed walk-through, a tabletop exercise testing the Airport Emergency and Air Show Plan.


A list of attendees is listed below:

Airport Manager
Air Traffic Control Chief
Airport Fire & Rescue Commander
Local Police Authority
State Police Authority
County Sheriff Authority
Hospital Network Authority
Ambulance Representative
Life Flight Helicopter Representative
Air Show Director
Air Operations Coordinator
Ground Operations Coordinator
Air Show Security Coordinator
Disaster Relief Agencies


The Emergency Plan is written to designate who is in charge during a particular emergency, reducing the reaction time to respond to an emergency, assuring the proper emergency equipment responds and identifies, examines and reduces the potential emergency areas. In order to do this effectively the Emergency Plan must be written and a walk-through exercise conducted.


The Emergency Plan will accompany the pre-existing Airport Emergency Plan.




The Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Chief will determine action to be taken dictated by the nature of the incident and the airport accident plan policy. The airport manager will direct and coordinate the overall incident response to include mutual assistance support from off the airport EMS , security and response to the media.

For major accident response the ARFF Chief will assume the In-Charge role and all activities will cease, the airport will belong to the fire chief. Once this organization has been established the airport accident plan will be executed.


The airshow operations have ceased, the control of the airport has be turned over to the airport manager and the local tower facility is in operation. The airport accident plan is executed and the air show emergency plan is in effect. The ARFF is busy controlling the accident site and it is now the air show responsibility to control the massive crowd situation. Once the area of the accident has been secured the air show will have to contend with the massive number of spectators who will leave the air show site and deal with the family member(s) who might be involved with the accident and the media.





The purpose of the emergency plan is to provide direction to those having responsibilities in order to assist them in the intellectual execution of an air show emergency. This plan can only provide the basis for action in case of an emergency and the succeeding action depends on the character of the emergency and they are issued after consultation with all the appropriate authorities.


Members of the airshow staff are not to make statements to the press or the general public about an emergency situation. Statements will only be made by the _______________ (i.e..... Airport Manager, Airport Relations Director)




Describe the Event: The XYZ Air Show will be conducted at the county airport on Saturday and Sunday, July 30 & 31, 1996. A crowd of approximately 15,000 is expected on Saturday July 30 and a crowd of approximately 30,000 is expected on July 31, 1996 between the hours of 0900 and 1700 local time.




The critical times of the air show will begin with the Press show on Friday and including the standard performances on Saturday and Sunday. Specific times will be listed on the FAA Form 7711-2.

The air show will expect arrivals on Friday, July 28, 1996 between 0900 and 1200. Departures will occur on Sunday, July 31, 1996 after 6:00pm .


The airport will be closed to aircraft traffic between:


Thursday, July 28, 1996 1000 - 1200 Jet Team Arrival
Friday, July 29, 1996 1200 - 1700 Press Show
Saturday, July 30, 1996 1200 - 1700 Show
Sunday, July 31, 1996 1200 - 1700 Show




Air Show Director
Air Show Ground and Air Operations Director
Air Operations Coordinator
Ground Operations Coordinator
Security Coordinator




Air Show Director is in overall charge of the air show and spectators. The Air Show Director will assist the airport manager in maintaining control of the accident site.


Air Show Ground and Air Operations Director will coordinate with the air operations coordinator and ground operations coordinator and security coordinator and assist the air show director.


Air Operations Coordinator will cease air operations and return the control of air operations to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Facility.

Ground Operations Coordinator will coordinate and assist the air show ground and operations director.


Security Coordinator will maintain security of the air show and secure the accident site.




During a spectator or an aircraft accident crowd control will be the responsibility of the Security Chief. Spectators must be kept away from the area of incident.




List Emergency Medical Assets


Listed below are the organizations providing Emergency Medical Service Support:


1.    Services on Airport
a. Airport Fire and Rescue

2.    Services off Airport
a. City Fire Departments

3.    Medical Services
a. Local Ambulance Services

4.    Security Services
a. Local Sheriff
b. Local Police
c. State Patrol
d. Professional Security Staff
e. Volunteer Security Staff


Planning, communication and readiness are essential to an effective Safety and Emergency Program at the air show. The air show operations staff must discipline itself to meet the critical challenge in implementing safety and decreasing ground and air accidents which may occur. The objective is to maintain the highest level of public and air crew safety. The most important element of the safety procedures and emergency policy is to communicate them clearly to the air show staff, the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Chief, airport manager, tower control chief and ground emergency units. No emergency plan is complete without reviewing the Airport Disaster and Community Emergency Plan.


Reaction to an aircraft accident during an air show should be identical to that which would take place at the airport at any other time. Simply, at the moment of the incident, on scene authority reverts from air show control to the responsible Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) chief. The rationale is that on scene response should be addressed by qualified personnel with proper equipment.




If the accident involves a military aircraft, the Senior Military Officer on the airport will be in charge of the on-scene control and reclamation, if he/she is so authorized by the Federal Government.

The ARFF Chief will be required to know oil and fuel types which will be used and how to access the variety of aircraft you will have at the air show.


Access routes to display aircraft and participant aircraft will be defined. A route to and from the air show will be designated as the emergency entrance. A determination will be made as to the method of evacuation either by helicopter or by land.


A specific route will be designated for emergency vehicles for egress and ingress to the airport. This route will be extended from the flight line to a distance that clears the air show spectator congestion. This route is a dedicated route for emergency use only and will be free of traffic at all times.




Communications to outside sources will be critical for multiple casualty situations by the Emergency Medical Services Chief (EMS) and Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Chief .


Good communications are essential to the air show. A communications link must be established between the Air Operations Manager, Air Show Announcer, Air Traffic Control (Tower), Remote Air Traffic Control (Approach Control), Emergency Medical Services and the Director of Air Show Operations and his staff.


The objective is to organize the communications net as to isolate critical functions on a dedicated frequency.


Arrangements must be made with the local ATC facility to use a frequency that is not otherwise used in the area. This frequency will be used for the arriving aircraft and to control the air show. This frequency should not be the tower or ground control frequency at the airport.


Frequencies must be approved with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sixty (60) days prior to the air show.


For a military "fly-by" a UHF radio will be required at the show control point Air Operations Manager/Air Boss.


Communications Net


Air Show Directors Net


Air Show Operations
Ramp Coordination
Air Operations Manager/Air Boss
Law Enforcement
Crowd Control
Airport Fire and Rescue-Emergency Response
Chief's Net
Medical Station(s)
Emergency Frequencies
Show Control Frequency
Ground Control Frequency
Emergency Alternate VHF/UHF Radio Frequency
Emergency Alternate Airport
Military Approach Frequency
Tower Frequency
Civilian Approach Frequency
Tower Frequency




The Air Show Communications net is designed to be a contingency plan for three (3) types of emergency situations:


Ground Emergency involving spectators Air Emergency involving the pilot and crew Air/Ground Emergency involving pilot/crew and spectators


The Air Show Director is in communication with the airport manager and the officials in charge of the area where the air show is being presented. Each of those entities have communications with their appropriate emergency agencies.


The Air & Ground Operations Director is in communications with the Air Operations Coordinator, Ground Operations Coordinator and the Emergency Center .


The Ground Operations coordinator informs the emergency center of a spectator incident involving accidents with spectators or spectators and vehicles.




The Air Show Communications Net, after a major incident occurs, transforms into the Air Show Emergency Communications Net. This occurs primarily because the air show command has been shifted to the Airport Manager and he is in control and in direct communications with the airport rescue.


The airport manager is also in communications with the city/country representatives to coordinate off airport site emergency information. The incident could involve an aircraft accident off airport site and require a city/county agency to react to the accident.


The airport manager is also in communications with the local tower authority, because the airport operations have ceased and the tower is coordinating any Life Flight helicopter operations. In all accidents involving the spectators or an aircraft the Security Coordinator will be required to secure the area.




In the event of an airport crash or other major event, no one is to discuss the incident with the news media. This is the responsibility of the airport representatives and the Director of Air Show. A briefing room will be established. Keep the media informed of the briefing room location and times of the briefing.


In a controlled situation, where casualties have been removed, the site is secured and a crane is preparing the wreckage to be moved, this may be the opportunity for the media to visit the accident site. Again, the Airport Fire and Rescue is in change of the accident site, the airport manager is in charge of the airport and the air show has drawn this media attention. It's not your obligation to mention it, your responsibilities may include providing the transportation to and from the accident site.


As the air show representative, you will probable be too busy trying to locate all the information about the pilot/crew, type of aircraft and pertinent information about the aircraft, that you have obtained since you met this aircraft/crew on Friday. Also locate any liability waivers the pilot signed at the conclusion of the air show flight briefing.




To assist in eliminating possible incidents the emergency plan can identify potential emergencies. List the areas that are suspect to danger and the different kinds of incidents that may occur in that area.


A vehicle accident can occur at any entry point, within the parking area and along the roadside. This type of incident may involve another automobile or pedestrian(s).


Within the crowd there are several incidents which may occur. Individual medical problems, heat related incidents and dehydration, strokes and heart attacks, the crowd congestion becomes a problem.

Aircraft pose another incident problem. Mixing the aircraft with a crowd that is not familiar with aircraft also pose problems. Be cautious regarding aircraft and crowd incidents. Check the aircraft and the spectator area. Equipment protruding for the aircraft my cause an incident.


Fire: In the event of a fire in the display area, spectator area, parking lot or any other area, the ARFF Chief is to be notified and he will take charge of the fire scene. Fires could occur in the static display area, service ramp area and performance aircraft staging area.


Hazardous Materials: In the event of a fuel or oil spill the ARFF Chief is to be notified and he will take charge of the clean-up.


Aircraft Accidents: In the event of an airport crash, control of the airport will be released to the ARFF Chief and all activities will cease. Several types of accident that might occur are:


Single aircraft incident: on runway, on taxi-ways, in crowd, off-site


Multi-Aircraft Accidents: on-runway, on taxi-ways, in crowd, off site


End of Show: At the conclusion of the air show try to identify areas that were vulnerable as the crowd was coming into the air show. The spectators will be rushed to get to their cars and travel home.


In the event that someone is in need of Emergency First Aid, the person should be taken to one of the First Aid Tents. If this is not feasible, an Emergency Medical Squad should be contacted. If there is a suspected fracture, back or neck injury, do not attempt to move the victim. Wait for the Emergency Medical Squad.


Cancellation of Emergency


When the alert is terminated, and the Federal Aviation Administration authority has given permission to move the aircraft, the Airport Fire and Rescue Chief will designate the necessary fire fighting equipment to stand by until the aircraft has been removed.  

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